Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., the president and CEO of TIAA, answered students’ questions about leadership, professional development and financial services during the spring 2017 Belk College of Business CEO Speaker Series on Feb. 1 at UNC Charlotte. (View photos from the spring 2017 CEO Speaker Series).
More than 500 students and guests attended the event at the Popp Martin Student Union to hear from the top executive at TIAA, the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical, and cultural fields and a Fortune 100 financial services organization. The greater Charlotte region is the organization’s single largest hub, with more than 3,000 employees. The TIAA campus in Charlotte is about one mile away from UNC Charlotte’s main campus and is a major employer of students and alumni.
Sporting 49er socks, a gift from alumni working at TIAA who attended the event, Ferguson shared insights with students. Some of the highlights:
- On investing: “The sooner you get started saving and investing, the better it will be for you. Second, be wise about how you save and how you spend your money. Third, do what you are doing now in school – invest in your human capital.”
- About his upbringing: “When other dads would talk to their sons about the box scores at the most recent baseball game, my father would be talking about interest rates…I grew up with a father who was always teaching me about financial literacy. In 8th grade, I started to balance the family checkbook. My mother was a teacher. One of the things that shaped me was my upbringing, which combined the value of education with real-world financial literacy.”
- On being a leader: “You have to be able to combine expertise with empathy…I describe this as having a really sharp mind but really soft elbows.”
- On fortitude: “There are setbacks as a leader. You have to be able to show the company how you can bounce back, and how they can bounce back, from those moments that aren’t perfect.”
Ferguson is the former Vice Chairman of the Board of Governors of the U.S. Federal Reserve System. He represented the Federal Reserve on several international policy groups and served on key Federal Reserve System committees, including Payment System Oversight, Reserve Bank Operations, and Supervision and Regulation. As the only Governor in Washington, D.C. on 9/11, he led the Fed’s initial response to the terrorist attacks, taking actions that kept the U.S. financial system functioning while reassuring the global financial community that the U.S. economy would not be paralyzed. Prior to joining TIAA in April 2008, Ferguson was head of financial services for Swiss Re, Chairman of Swiss Re America Holding Corporation, and a member of the company’s executive committee. From 1984 to 1997, he was an Associate and Partner at McKinsey & Company. He began his career as an attorney at the New York City office of Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Ferguson is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and co-chairs its Commission on the Future of Undergraduate Education. He serves on the boards of Alphabet, Inc., General Mills, Inc., and International Flavors & Fragrances, Inc. He is Chairman of The Conference Board and serves on the boards of the Institute for Advanced Study and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He is a member of the American Philosophical Society, the Economic Club of New York, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Group of Thirty. He previously chaired the Business-Higher Education Forum and served on its executive committee, and he served on the board of the American Council of Life Insurers.
Ferguson served on President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness as well as its predecessor, the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, and he co-chaired the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on the Long-Run Macro-Economic Effects of the Aging U.S. Population. He holds a B.A., J.D., and a Ph.D. in economics, all from Harvard University.
The Belk College of Business CEO Speaker Series features alumni and friends of the Belk College who are business leaders. Past presenters of the CEO Speaker Series have included Robert A. Niblock of Lowe’s Companies, Inc., Susan DeVore of Premier, Inc., Kelly King of BB&T and Tom Skains of Piedmont Natural Gas. The CEO Speaker Series is organized several times a year by the Belk College of Business and the Robert A. Niblock Student Center for Professional Development, which prepares graduates to enter a business career and become leaders in the workplace and the community. Through their stories, successes and lessons, speakers of the CEO Speaker Series provide a transformational experience for students.